Are Palliative Care and End-of-Life Care Different?

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Many people mistake palliative care with end-of-life care. While both may share similarities, the two are not the same. Here, we’ll clearly define each one and determine the differences between the two.

What Is Palliative Care?

Palliative care often involves treating a patient with a serious illness. In palliative care, it doesn’t matter the expected outcome or what stage of the illness the patient is in. What matters is that the patient is given physical comfort and a maximized quality of life despite the illness. 

In palliative care, a whole team of healthcare professionals works together to care for the patient. Palliative care may be given at a hospital setting, assisted living facility, nursing home, or even at the patient’s home.

It’s important to clarify that palliative care isn’t a death sentence. In fact, palliative care is often given to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy to better manage and treat their symptoms. Some doctors may even recommend palliative care for their patients recovering from surgery or who have a condition that causes severe discomfort.

What Is End-of-Life Care?

Based on the name alone, one can have an idea of what end-of-life care insinuates. It often involves providing medical care and emotional support to a patient nearing the end of their life. A doctor may suggest end-of-life care when all options for treatment have been exhausted, and a patient’s condition is determined to be terminal. 

The duration of end-of-life care depends on the severity of the terminal illness. For some, it could span for months, while for others, it could last for a mere few hours. No matter the duration, it is important to make the patient as comfortable as possible during their limited time. 

This, too, requires a full team. However, unlike palliative care, end-of-life care doesn’t just involve healthcare professionals. Legal advisers, social workers, financial advisors, and sometimes religious clergy may even be involved.

Palliative Care vs. End-of-Life Care

The biggest difference between the two is that end-of-life care involves a patient suffering from a terminal illness. While palliative care provides the patient with medical care and emotional support to help them manage their symptoms or ease them into recovery, end-of-life care involves making the patient as comfortable as they can during their last moments.

Palliative care typically lasts as long as the patient needs it. On the other hand, end-of-life care can be given from the moment it is arranged up to the patient’s death. Additional needs of the patient may also be met during end-of-life care. This could include legal aid for writing a last will and testament, faith-based support for spiritual or religious individuals, and other final wishes the patient may have.

Final Thoughts

While palliative care and end-of-life care may share similarities, the two terms are not interchangeable. The latter involves a terminal condition, while the former may still have a chance for recovery. Whether your loved one is receiving palliative care or end-of-life care, it is important to give them the support they need and let them know you are there for them.

If you or your loved one wants to receive home health or hospice at home, Gateway Home Health and Hospice can provide the home care services you need. We are committed to providing the highest quality home-based patient care in an atmosphere of respect for human dignity. Our highly trained clinicians and therapists strive to exceed the expectations of our patients, families, caregivers, and physicians. We are based in Denver and Colorado Springs, CO. Contact us today!

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